February has been an exciting month for us! To help me want to stay "gazelle intense" with our goal to be completely, 100%, debt-free-including-the-mortgage one day, I have been listening to Dave Ramsey's radio show online most afternoons. It helps me remember why we want to "live like no one else so we can live like no one else." And why sometimes a "beans and rice, rice and beans" diet is necessary.
Here's our progress with our general 2010 Financial Goals:
Goal: Cash only for Groceries and Entertainment/Recreation.
~For the month of February we decided to alot $10 extra to our Grocery Budget to be able to stock up on some things for the month of March when I probably won't be doing very much grocery shopping. I was able to stock up on lunch meat and cheese, buy extra flour to make bread to freeze, and replenish a couple other little things here and there. I don't think I went over-budget once, so the cash system is really working!
~For the Entertainment/Recreation, this is just hilarious. We tried. We tried hard. But it just doesn't work so well when you have a date night all carefully planned, you have just enough cash in the envelope and a coupon for a free appetizer... and then go to the wrong restaurant. And you eat before you pay. And the waitress comes back and says "Um, this coupon is for O'Charley's, not Applebee's" and you end up paying the full amount with your debit card! Lesson learned (and laughed about!!): don't rely on your rememberer to remember where the coupon is for. Read the fine-print!
Goal: Stick to the budget - less impulse buying.
~Success!! No lawn mower blades were purchased this month. That I know of. Daniel did buy me a cute little box of chocolates for Valentine's Day, but I don't think he needs my permission to do that :)
Goal: Put some money into savings each week.
~Again, 2 out of 4 weeks we did this. There were still some big ticket baby items we had to buy (ahem, nursing bras are NOT cheap!) so instead of putting money into savings then taking it back out to pay for those things, we just put it right into the baby fund.
Now, on to the Extra Goals we had for February!
Goal: Get budget categories Entertainment/Recreation, Miscellaneous, and Gifts out of the red.
~Accomplished!! These were categories that I/we just "let go" during December. (Insert big regret!) At the beginning of the month I put down on paper a mini-debt snowball system, and we were able to "pay off" these categories early!
Goal: Get Daniel a debit card so we can wean out our credit card.
~Accomplished!! Well, it's been ordered and should arrive this week. I am SO looking forwards to not "paying for the past" anymore!! I'm not sure I have Daniel convinced to cancel our credit card (yet!), but he's definitely on board with using the debit card instead.
And, drum-roll, please!!!
Goal: REFINANCE THE MORTGAGE!!
~Woohoo, woohoo, woohoo!!! WE DID IT!! This is something we've been talking about for probably a year now (ever since rates started dropping), and we decided around the end of the year that yes, it was the right thing to do. We closed on the 22nd, with a rate decrease of .51%!! Shh, don't tell Dave, but we refinanced for another 30 year mortgage (the rate is LOCKED IN, baby!). With the refinance, our monthly payment is lower enough from what we're used to that we will be able to cash-flow the addition we are going to build (ourselves) this year. Once the addition is finished, we will throw that extra money towards the mortgage. I played around with an amortization calculator and if we simply pay what we're used to paying monthly, we can knock this debt out of our lives in 12-14 years, less than half the term of the loan! Of course it would be totally awesome if we could do it in less :)
It is so exciting to see the teeny-tiny speck of light at the end of the tunnel - that is not an on-coming train :P 12-14 years to being debt free sounds so much more do-able than a dragging "30 years."
I'm not sure what our extra goals for March will be yet. They may not be very exciting since a lot of excitement will be revolving around Baby George's arrival :) But, you never know! So stay tuned!!
This post is linked to LifeAsMom's Frugal Friday.